Elex II Gameplay Preview

Developed by Piranha Bytes, published by THQ Nordic – March 1, 2022 (X1/S/X, PS4/5, PC)
*MSRP: $49.99 – https://store.steampowered.com/app/900040/ELEX_II/

Elex II is an open world role playing game. The world of Magalan is under threat by mysterious alien invaders who are terraforming the planet and killing off any who come near them. Jax must once again gather allies in order to stop the alien invasion and save humanity.

Jax’s hut is no more. The aliens should be glad this wasn’t John Wick’s house.

The game starts off with a bang. Alien invaders blow up Jax’s humble hut in the woods, bite and infect him with an alien disease, and leave him for dead in the wilderness. An elderly man named Adam finds you and heals you up as best as he can and beseeches you to help unite the rest of humanity against the alien invaders, now named Skyands. He uses a possible heal for the alien infection as leverage to get you to aid him in his quest and invites you to find out more at his stronghold in Bastion.

An elderly man named Adam finds you and tends to your wounds.

After the intro sequence, the game does a great job of introducing narrative, characters, and action at a fast pace. A few minutes away from where Adam found you is the world heart and your partner Caja. You go there to make sure your son Dex is safe. Jax is quite the negligent father as he seemingly just left Dex out in the wilderness. This is shown in a rather abruptly and awkwardly placed cut scene of Dex and Jax interacting.

After you settle Caja’s Morkon problem, she will be free to join your party.

Soon after talking to Caja, you learn of the Morkon Bloodhounds that massacred Caja’s people. You are given a mission to eliminate them so Caja can be free to help you out in your quest to unite humanity once more against the alien threat. Soon after this, you go find your son and head off together as a dysfunctional family unit to the city of Bastion.

As you can see, the game delivers content at a very quick pace. There’s always something for the player to do so the game had an easy time holding my attention. There is also a lot of voice acted dialogue. While I found most of the performances to be acceptable, the writing of the dialogue felt rather wooden and awkward. It used phrases and words that the average person would not use in a casual conversation, especially between people you are close with.

While I did find this to be off putting initially, it does have a sort of charm to it as time goes on. I feel like the dialogue and voice acting doesn’t necessarily build up the characters. It does however, do a great job of building up the world of Elex indirectly. I found myself interested in what the characters were saying in relation to building up the overall world and not necessarily the individual. The characters felt flat and one dimensional. It did remind me quite a bit of playing Fallout 3 in a nostalgic way.

The game does a great job of adding in little narrative flourishes as well. One of the first optional side quests you have available is to attend a Billy Idol concert. It’s just literally a concert where you get to watch and listen to Billy Idol sing a full song about his good ole friends whiskey and pills. It was definitely a strange encounter but a charming one, much like the rest of the game.

The combat is ok. It could be better but I found it to be enjoyable enough.

As for the combat, it did feel a bit janky but acceptable. You just hit enemies with melee or ranged weapons until they no longer move. There is a dodge mechanic available that you do need to use later on but it felt slow and unresponsive. It is quite a bit of fun however, just roaming the world and looting everything in sight and punching everyone you meet.

You can level up one of five attributes as you gain enough experience. Items, weapons, and abilities require a certain stats so be mindful of that.

The progression system is based on attribute points and learning points. You have strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, and cunning for your attributes. Strength increases melee damage, constitution health, dexterity ranged damage, intelligence spell damage, and cunning social skills. Every five points into an attribute will increase the related stat by one. For example, putting five points into strength will increase melee damage by one. Items, weapons, and abilities in the world of Elex II require certain attribute levels so make sure to look at what you want to use and spec your character accordingly.

You need to find a teacher with the corresponding skills to learn new abilities.

Learning points let you learn skills but you must find the corresponding teacher and have enough money and meet the attribute requirements before you can learn the skills. The skills usually enable utility related things such as enabling weapon crafting or increase your offensive and defensive abilities.

Dex looks like he could be out of someone’s nightmare.

The game is definitely janky and lacks polish or finesse in many areas but it makes up for it with charm and personality. One of the main issues other players seemed to have was with the dynamic camera angle and fixed field of view but I personally had no issues with it. I am making note of it here because it may bother some players enough to make the game unplayable for them. There is also so much spoken dialogue and I started to get slowly immersed into the game because of the world building. The combat is simple but enjoyable enough and I found it a lot of fun just wandering the world, finding new gear, and fighting everything in sight.

Overall, Elex II is definitely not a perfect game or even a polished one but I found it to be quite enjoyable.

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